January 13, 2021 - 3 min read
The COVID-19 vaccine: Important information for your members
Development, facts, and myth-busting
In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. With two vaccines authorized and several others in Phase 3 of clinical trials, distribution and the push for vaccinations are well under way early in 2021. Blue Shield of California is here to provide guidance and understanding around COVID-19 vaccines, the companies who made them, and the facts supporting vaccinations.
Pfizer, the Manhattan-based pharmaceutical giant, began testing drugs for possible COVID-19 vaccines in spring 2020. Tozinameran, a drug made by German biotechnology firm BioNTech, showed effectiveness in fighting the virus. By summer, the two companies partnered to produce four vaccine candidates fast-tracked by the FDA. After extensive clinical trials, one Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (BNT162b2) was granted EUA by the FDA on December 11, 2020, and distribution planning began.
Moderna is a small Massachusetts-based biotechnology company that developed a vaccine called mRNA-1237 to fight COVID-19 in January 2020. To fund and begin clinical trials, Moderna partnered with two federal institutions—the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the U.S Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA). After completing Phases 1, 2, and 3 of clinical trials the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA-1273 vaccine was granted EUA by the FDA on December 18, 2020.
With distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine (referring to both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines) well under way, we want to educate our members and encourage vaccinations as a necessary and vital next step.
First, it’s important to note the vaccine is available at no cost. Our members can receive doses at any location, without a doctor’s referral, free of charge. The U.S is using a phased approach to administer the limited number of doses, with priority given to the most at-risk among us. We anticipate widespread availability of doses sometime in 2021. Our flyer, 4 things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine, gives additional information about the vaccine in an easy-to-share form.
Promoting facts about the vaccine involves dispelling myths as the public’s trust in a vaccine varies based on an array of contributing factors. This distrust leads to common misconceptions – like the vaccine will give a person COVID-19 or that a healthy person doesn’t need a vaccine – that put communities at unnecessary risk. To clear the air, we’ve created a list of myths, Myth-busting: 7 facts about the COVID-19 vaccines, that addresses common myths and provides the facts behind the fictions.
Blue Shield of California is committed to providing access to high-quality, affordable health care that is worthy of our family and friends. To us that means promoting the vaccine, educating our members and their communities, and slowing the spread of the virus.
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